How to choose the best proposal tool for your freelance business
When searching for proposal software for your freelance business, you'll soon be met with dozens of different products.
But which one is the right tool for you?
In this post, we aim to find that out. We'll go through all the key factors you'll need to take into account when choosing a proposal management software for your freelance business - and give you a few recommendations.
Without further ado, let's jump in!
What is proposal management software?
Let's start with the basics. What is proposal software exactly?
In short, proposal software (or proposal management software) is an app or platform that helps salespeople create proposals.
Proposal management software tools allow freelancers to create proposals easily and efficiently while ensuring they look professionally designed. The main purpose of proposal management software is to save you time and help you focus on activities that directly impact your sales.
Important to mention is that almost all of the proposal software are cloud-based and they usually come with a price tag. Later on, we'll recommend several proposal software solution providers we think are making great tools for smaller sales teams - and one completely free proposal software solution!
Now, let's talk about why you should even use proposal management software as a freelancer!
What are the benefits of using proposal management software in your freelance business?
It's safe to say that using proposal management software for your freelance business comes with loads of benefits.
Here are some of the most notable.
Proposal management tools saves you time
The traditional, “manual” method of creating proposals can easily become time-consuming. With proposal management tools, this issue becomes a thing of the past.
You can easily save up to 20-30 minutes of your time per a sales proposal - if you use proposal software. And this number gets even higher the more complex your sales proposal is.
We're fully aware that freelancers simply can't afford to sit for hours writing online proposals.
Luckily, sales proposal management software has now become extremely accessible to freelancers. There are several sales proposal software solutions you can get for cheap - and we'll go through them later on in this post!
Proposal management software helps you collaborate more easily
You and your colleagues are putting together a sales proposal, but you feel that the entire thing could've gone more smoothly.
Business proposal software helps you put together professional-looking proposals effortlessly, even when you're working in a sales team. From providing feedback to making revisions in real-time and tracking changes, proposal management tools usually have these or similar key features.
All in all, it's easy to conclude that using the right proposal management software in sales teams can supercharge your collaboration.
Track and analyze all your proposals
Having all your proposal documents in a single place does come in handy. Especially when you can track their statuses and dig deeper into the analysis.
For instance, with proposal management software, you can:
- Track how long it took for prospective clients to respond
- Track how many of your professional proposals were accepted
- Filter all proposals by specific services.
When you start working on a new sales proposal, you'll find all this information useful and you'll have a better understanding of how to create a winning proposal.
Surely, deciding which proposal management software is best for your freelance business is not an easy task. To help you make the right decision, we'll go through 5 key factors you'll want to take into account.
If you've already written a few proposals, but with no success, check out our list of the most common mistakes you need to avoid in your sales proposals.
The 5 key factors you need to consider before choosing an online proposal software for your freelance business
Not all proposal software are made equal. From different designs to different features and integrations, there are many things you'll want to pay attention to before making a buying decision.
Let's go over the 5 key factors!
Features and functionalities
This is probably the most important factor you'll need to weigh. The question you need to ask yourself first is - what do I need in proposal software?
Luckily, countless reviews have already told us which key features mean the most to proposal software users.
1. Proposal effectiveness reporting
In short, this would be the proposal software's robust analytics features. When using proposal software solutions, you'll want to be able to see how many of your sales proposals are successful.
Depending on the software you choose, you'll be able to use different views and filters to analyze your proposal's effectiveness.
2. Drag-and-drop proposal builder
The lack of this feature is, in our view, a dealbreaker. The very purpose of proposal software is to increase your efficiency and help you create winning sales proposals fast.
And you'll want to pay attention to the drag-and-drop interface for every proposal software you research.
3. Customizable templates
When you're trying to make the most out of your working day, it would be quite useful if you could speed up the proposal writing process. After all, you want to have as much time available for your billable work.
With customizable templates, you can create proposals extremely fast
For example, if you're an SEO freelancer, it would be great if you simply choose one of the predesigned templates for each of the services you're offering.
Or if you have a fixed-price, full-package SEO offer, why not templatize it? Using templates is what allows us to maximize our results, and you'll want that in your proposal software.
Ease of use
When running a freelance business, the last thing you'll want to do is spend hours figuring out how to use your new proposal software.
Hence, we can easily say that ease of use is one of the critical factors when choosing proposal software. You'll want something intuitive and user-friendly, so you don't have to worry about spending time learning how to use it.
Remember - a good proposal software needs to be:
- Easy to set up
- Easy to navigate
- Easy to use
You'll want all the key features simply explained to you. And predefined templates do make a difference when choosing proposal software.
The more complex a proposal software is, the chance is that it's going to be a bit clunkier to use. So, take into account your needs and wants and use proposal software that best fits you personally.
Customer support and available resources
Do they have a support section on the website? Is there an FAQ page? How long does it usually take for them to answer customer inquiries? Are there any how-to guides and tutorials?
These are just some of the questions you may want to answer when evaluating a proposal software's support and resources.
If a certain proposal software has reliable and efficient customer support, this can easily make a huge difference. Having access to customer support and crucial resources is of utmost importance, especially when you encounter a certain issue.
Keep in mind, help resources are extremely important when you're just starting. Otherwise, it would be difficult to set up the software and maximize its potential. And if there are no tutorials, user guides, or FAQs on the software's website, think again before you decide to sign up for a monthly plan.
All in all, customer support and help resources play a big role in the digital product space. Even Google thinks so.
Most importantly, they provide you with peace of mind, ensuring you that no problem can't be solved.
Available software integrations often play a big role, especially if you're already using a few tools and you'd like to connect them all. This can hugely impact your productivity and simplify your business processes, so think about this when searching for new business proposal software.
Having various software integrated with your proposal software can be incredibly beneficial, but the software integrations themselves can be seen as game-changers.
In any case, let's take a look at what kind of integrations you should look out for.
Here are some suggestions:
- If you're using tools like Trello or Asana, check if there are available integrations for any of them. Most software today allow you to connect with these project management tools
- If you already have a CRM like Hubspot or Salesforce set up, integrating it with your business proposal software can be highly beneficial. You'll immediately have everything you need to create personalized proposals that speak to your client's pain points
- If you're using accounting software, try integrating it with your business proposal software. This way, you'll be able to send invoices, receive payments, and track your financial data more easily
All in all, think of software integrations as a key factor when choosing business proposal software for your freelance business. They can greatly improve your efficiency and help you reach your sales goals much faster.
Just a reminder - be sure to check if the software you're looking to sign up for already integrates with some of the tools you're already using!
Value for money
For a majority of freelancers, spending large sums of money on administrative and sales tools (like proposal software) may not be the best course of action.
Instead, you should try to make an informed decision based on your research. Or someone else's for that matter.
Here, every bit matters. Is the software a bit costly, but it has a ton of useful features? Or is it free but it has a limited set of features? Does their website have enough useful resources?
Most importantly, you must take into account your budget and your business needs when making a buying decision. For freelancers, most of the time, the cost tends to be the largest decision factor, so make sure to keep an eye out for free proposal software!
Luckily, the first proposal software for freelancers we'll talk about next is 100% free!
7 best proposal management software
Now that we’ve gone through all the major factors that can impact your buying decision, let’s take a look at the top 7 proposal software for freelancers!
Here’s the list.
You may call us biased, but we just love how simple and easy to use Propoze is.
Out of all software on this list, Propoze is the simplest one. The idea behind Propoze is to allow users to create a beautiful sales proposal in moments, easily create branded proposals, and move on with their work.
It's incredibly easy to use with a set of a few crucial features, such as the drag-and-drop editor, proposal tracking, and client management.
Also, you can create unlimited proposals and fill your content library with as many proposals as you want.
- Easy to use with simple features
- Online proposal sharing works extremely fast
- Drag-and-drop proposal builder
- You can set up your unique work units and services
- You can track every proposal you create
- A smaller set of features
- May not be suited for sales teams that need more advanced features
- Some users may find it even too simple
There is a free-forever plan, and a paid plan in development, set to release in 2023. Give Propoze a go for free on this link!
OVDJE IDE SLIKA
PandaDoc is easily one of the best proposal software for freelancers. It's complex software enabling you to do much more than build proposals. You can create interactive quotes, contracts, and more.
Its free version is a bit limited when it comes to features and functionalities, but its paid plan is where it gets interesting.
More than 30 integrations (Slack, Freshbooks, Google Drive, Hubspot CRM, and more) make it a desirable proposal tool for a freelancer with a wide digital toolkit.
- Easily create professional-looking proposals
- Integrated payment features (PayPal)
- You can create documents with custom branding
- Has integrated document management system
- It is easy to use, update quotes, and see when the viewers are looking at the proposals
- If users make a mistake while creating a proposal, it's difficult to modify without starting from the beginning
- Some of the numbering and lettering, especially subclauses in contracts, can be tricky or nonexistent
- You can't upload multiple files in a single document
Paid plans start at $19/mo, but there is a free plan available. Here's the complete pricing table.
Proposify may not be the first option that comes to freelancers' minds, but it's a pretty good proposal software overall!
It comes with predesigned proposal templates and offers full customization. Templates are smartly designed and organized by component, allowing you to templatize your work even further.
Like the rest of the software on the list, it comes with a drag-and-drop editor allowing you to easily create better proposals. And important to mention, it allows you to track your proposal's progress and see who's viewing your proposal documents and any other related documents.
Similar to PandaDoc, it offers various software integrations, some of them being Stripe, Hubspot, Infusionsoft, QuickBooks, and many more. Regarding support, you can easily contact them online or via phone during business hours.
- Proposify's content library has an easy-to-use option for customizing variables, fields, and templates
- User-friendly design editor allows you to quickly create professional proposals
- Proposify has integrated signature features
- There are dozens of customizable proposal templates available
- Some of the formatting options aren't completely intuitive, especially when it comes to images
- The billing tables inside of the proposal are a little confusing and difficult to use
- The content library is somewhat limited, better to be viewed as a foundation for your custom proposals
Team plans begin at $49/mo per user, but there is a free version available for individuals. If you're still unsure, Proposify offers a free demo so give it a try. In any case, here's their complete pricing table below.
Qwilr is, undoubtedly, a top-notch proposal software for freelancers and businesses of all sizes. It's neatly designed and has a inuitive interface which makes it one of the favorites among proposal software users.
Even though there is no free plan, they make up for it with their numerous features, high-level support, and the sheer availability of software integrations.
Qwilr has a vast library of predesigned proposal templates, organized by industries, making it easy for you to create proposals fast if you’re working in several different industries.
What makes Qwilr stand out from the other proposal software we’ve covered? Qwilr doesn’t help you create PDF proposals.
Instead, Qwilr proposals are designed as beautiful, interactive, and mobile-responsive web pages.
It offers integration with various external software, like Zapier, Slack, and Hubspot. And, for those moments when you need a helping hand, customer support is available online and via phone during business hours.
Even though freelancers may want to sign up for Qwilr, smaller sales teams may see the biggest benefit in using it! Still, don't get discouraged, you can always get a free demo from Qwilr team to see if the software fits your needs perfectly.
- Any sales team can use it, regardless of size
- You can build proposals easily with a drag and drop editor
- Qwilr's document management system allows you to store and quickly navigate between all stored documents
- Qwilr comes with integrated payment features
- Qwilr has a ton of integrations for various software solutions (HubSpot, Slack, Zapier, Salesforce,...)
- Sometimes the customization available to make on documents is tight to the software possibilities and there is no much possibility to make custom designs
- It can be a little difficult to style. And the updates will break any current/old proposal documents you’ve created.
- You can't change the font type, size or color individually as you have to first save it to a template
- Can be a bit pricey if you have the need to do a high volume of proposals.
- There is a Stripe integration, but if you're working with PayPal, you'll hit a brick wall
Qwilr's team plans begin at $35/mo, and there is no free plan. However, you can try out their free demo to see if Qwilr fits all your needs before you choose a certain pricing plan. Below you can find their complete pricing table.
Next, we have Dropbox Docsend. Now, unlike other software on the list, Docsend is much more than proposal software and may even better fit the category of collaboration tools.
It serves as a platform for sharing all types of documents. This is no wonder if we take into account that it comes from the minds behind Dropbox.
In short, Docsend allows you to store all your proposal documents, secure them with passwords, and track further activities after you send them.
It's great to use if you're dealing with a ton of sales documents and you want to keep them all in place.
That said, it does integrate with Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive.
Like many other tools on the list, it has electronic signature features, which you may also find a highly attractive feature.
All in all, Docsend is a unique platform you should definitely take a look at and even use in combination with other software from the list (pssst, try Propoze!)
- Customer service is resourceful and quickly responds to all inquiries
- Great features for document access management
- You can gain valuable insights into how your customers view your files and documents
- Docsend integrates with popular CRMs (e.g. Salesforce)
- All custom links are displayed in one list and if you're using a lot of them - it's hard to sort them and to find the right one.
- Web crashes push the user to start from the top
- It's missing a contextually-important feature of converting to PDF
The pricing plans start at $10/month for individuals and $45/month for large teams. Below you can see all Docsend's pricing plans.
Prospero is a powerful and user-friendly proposal tool created primarily for freelancers and small companies. It offers a variety of features that can be used to quickly and easily make beautiful proposals.
It offers a wide range of functionalities, such as:
- Final document export in PDF
- Document analytics features and audit trail
- Approval workflow
- Notification system
- Access control
Prospero's payment features and e-signature capabilities are two of its most distinctive features. This means that you can send proposals, get signatures on them, and get paid all through a single, easy procedure.
For freelance contractors and owners of small businesses, this single feature is one of the biggest time-savers. Unlike several tools on this list, Prospero doesn't provide APIs, but we're positive it will soon get on their development roadmap.
Also, regardless of the industry you're in, Prospero offers a large arsenal of predesigned proposal templates. When you're freelancing, you know you'll most probably use these proposal templates more than once!
And if you're using software like Quickbooks, Hotjar, or Zapier, you'll like that Prospero offers integrations for these platforms!
- Easy to create proposals that look great without investing too much effort
- You can easily manage pricing and multi-user access
- You can track your clients' activities regarding your proposal
- Prospero comes with e-signature capabilities included
- You can't enter a page break when creating a proposal document
- Invoicing integrations are a bit limited
- Sometimes the layout options are limiting or hard to get to display how you want, especially when it comes to photos
- It can get very slow to work if your documents require a lot of customization
There's only one pricing plan and it's 10$/month (per user). Still, there is a 14-day free trial if you want to check it out first.
And last, but definitely not the least, is Bonsai. Bonsai is a proposal software and business management platform with a ton of features. Whether you're a freelancer or a small business owner, you'll love how many features Bonsai can offer.
Unlike other tools on the list, Bonsai offers much more than just a proposal software.
From client and project management features (CRM, scheduling, time tracking, task management, etc.) to finance management functionalities (invoicing, accounting, taxes, etc.), Bonsai can help you manage several aspects of your business.
And if you're an agency account manager, for example, you'll see a large number of your day-to-day challenges solved with Bonsai. Same as previous tools, it does offer templates:
- Contract templates
- Proposal templates
- Scope of work templates
- Brief templates
- Form templates
- Invoice templates
Overall, Bonsai is an excellent proposal software and freelance management tool for freelancers and small businesses who want an all-in-one solution to manage their workflow, contracts, proposals, and invoicing.
With its range of features and affordable pricing, Bonsai is definitely worth checking out.
- It does an excellent job of keeping track of the various documents associated with different projects
- It allows you to track the time you spend easily
- Automated contract creation means you don’t need to waste money on a lawyer
- The language in the automatically-generated documents adapts to your country
- Dashboard does an excellent job of giving you a general rundown of ongoing projects
- Easy to get the hang off
- Contract creation tool has its limits
- Currently not available in any language other than English
- Time tracking feature doesn’t capture evidence of your work
Pricing plans start at $17/mo and there is a 7-day trial available. Below you can find their complete pricing table.
How does the proposal process work?
The moment you choose a proposal management software, it's time to incorporate it into your proposal creation process.
However, there are some steps you'll need to take before fully diving into the proposal creation process. Let's start from the beginning.
Step #1: Identify the opportunity
The entire proposal process starts by identifying an opportunity or a need you can solve. For example, this can be a client's request for proposal (RFP), an internal company problem, or an opportunity to launch a new product.
Step #2: Research and gather information
Once you identify the opportunity — it's time to research. You'll need to gather all the necessary info and supporting materials, involving market research, customer research, competitor research, and so on.
Step #3: Define the problem and goals
When the research is finished and you've confirmed some of your assumptions, you'll need to clearly articulate the problem you want to solve. In a proposal.
The best way to go about this is to be very specific when defining goals and objectives you want to reach. If possible, use the SMART goal framework.
Step #4: Craft the proposal
This step is where the action is. It's time for proposal writing.
Now, when you start to write a proposal, you'll need to structure it in a logical and persuasive manner. So, start with a quick introduction that will provide context and capture the reader's attention.
Be explicit when talking about the problem you want to solve and how you want to solve it. Explain how your solution addresses the problem.
Also, supporting evidence as case studies, data, and testimonials can only strengthen your proposal.
Step #5: Address potential objections
Before you even send a proposal and get feedback from your client, you can anticipate several objections and concerns they may have. Make sure you address all objections in the proposal — it will help you demonstrate your understanding of the problem and build trust with your prospective client.
Step #6: Create a visually appealing document
Your proposal documents need to be visually appealing and easy to navigate. So, always use headings, subheadings, bullet points, charts, graphs, and other visuals to enhance readability (and make your proposal an eye candy).
With Propoze, you can design proposals that will look beautiful without too much hassle. Give it a try!
Step #7: Review and refine
This step is crucial. You'll need to proofread your proposal and ensure it's fully polished and error-free. Also, a fresh pair of eyes can be extremely helpful here.
So, why not send it to us?
Get a free proposal review from Propoze team! Send us your proposal at firstname.lastname@example.org and our team will provide you with detailed feedback on how to improve it.
Step #8: Submit the proposal
The time has come to send the proposal. So, you do it either over email, or you upload it to a certain platform. Physically delivering printed copies of proposals works too!
Step #9: Engage in follow-up and communication
Once you have submitted the proposal, it's time to follow up. It's almost certain you'll need to follow up with your prospective clients. Luckily, we've prepared a guide that will help you handle this entire process.
Step #10: Finalize and formalize the agreement
Finally, when the client accepts the proposal, you'll need to finalize the agreement. This means negotiating terms, drafting contracts, and ensuring all stakeholders are on the same page when it comes to scope, timeline, and deliverables.
Keep in mind, every proposal process may have unique requirements and variations, but following these general steps will help guide you through the process from start to finish.
Use our free sales proposal solution to create beautiful proposals in moments
This was a long ride! We’ve gone through a lot of information today - from the benefits of using proposal software in your freelance business to the list of the best 7 proposal software a freelancer may want to use.
What we can conclude is - you most probably want to try out one of this software! To help you get started, why not try Propoze? We’ve got everything you need to design a beautiful, clean sales proposal - and it’s free!
Here’s a link for a free signup so feel free to give it a spin - there’s no contract or any sort of obligation here!
And if you’d like to know more about proposal software, be sure to keep following our blog! We’ll be posting highly-researched articles every week. So, if you’d like us to cover a certain topic, please let us know at email@example.com and we’ll be on it ASAP!
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